Before we begin, I’d like to thank Alexx for her kind and gracious offer to host me today. Tomorrow’s the scariest day of the year, and I’m very happy that she let me come and spend it with her and all you wonderful readers!
Gather round, boys and girls. Come sit by the fragrant warmth of the rock maple fire with a cup of spiced cider, or a stronger spirit if you prefer, and snuggle close to that special someone. A cool breeze rimed with the promise of ice sighs through the denuded trees overhead, setting the last clinging husks of the splendid summer greenery to rattle against the hard wood. The sickle moon rides above, its blade sharpened by the chill breeze and stropped on the high, thin clouds to a scalpel’s keen edge.
With the royal green robes of summer exploding into the fiery colors of autumn before they fall off the trees, it’s natural that the human mind turns at this time of year to endings. To regrets over paths not taking, love irrevocably lost never to be found again, and to graves dusted with fallen leaves. It is a time of change, when nature is in flux, awaiting the onslaught of winter and the spring beyond.
It is therefore perhaps not surprising therefore that the Celts celebrated this time of the year and its tremulous, transient energy as Samhain, their New Year. It is the time when death seems to be everywhere one looks, and the world prepares to renew itself by falling into the torpor of winter. At this time of year, the air itself has a different feel, as if a wall has fallen to permit things that are scoffed at in the rational light of day to walk freely among us.
Pronounced Sah-wain, this celebration was the ultimate feast of the Celtic calendar. The harvest was in, and they gathered to thank their ancestors and deities for watching over them and their loved ones. They set places at their feast tables for the souls of the dead and those creatures who can pass the veil between our world and their own, lest they invoke the wrath of these capricious beings and bring about famine, starvation, ill fortune, defeat in battle, or even death.
We, as modern people, laugh at the foolishness of such concerns. Science teaches us exactly how and why crops succeed or fail in a given year and why the seasons change as they do. We study weather patterns, the rotation of the earth and its revolution around the sun, and the myriad methods of making a crop resistant against weather, drought, and disease.
But our lizard brain, the part of our mind concerned solely with survival, recognizes that strange wavering in the atmosphere on the knife edge between autumn and winter. This is the corner of the human brain that doesn’t care what façade is layered over the top and suspects that all the “myths” we’ve been taught to dismiss since childhood may in fact have their own truth.
So we put on our Halloween costumes, from plain to elaborate. We paint our faces or wear masks so we will seem to be just one more in the crowd and shepherd our children from door to door or bounce from party to party, indulging in the ancient ritual begging for goodies and treats. We carve pumpkins into whimsical, funny, or frightening scenes to recall Jack O’Lantern, whose own lantern was a turnip lit from within by a coal plucked from the depths of Hell. We laugh, make merry, bob for apples, tell scary stories, and frighten ourselves half to death only to laugh later at our “irrational” phobias.
When you’re out and about this Halloween season, you might spare a look at the crowd around you and notice something you never saw before. Is that unearthly lovely woman really a woman, or a Fae, come across the veil to see how humans are treating her once-sacred ground? Did the all-too-accurately attired zombie spend the entire year planning exactly how to shamble around that way, or has one of the denizens of the grave returned to sample pleasures beyond human reckoning? Might you encounter an angel, demon, werewolf, vampire, or ghost who isn’t just playacting? When your eyes meet, do you say, “Hey, Tom!” or do you feel a feral shiver in the presence of something that is not exactly what it appears to be?
The modern world is filled with illusions. This Halloween, when you watch the people coming and going on your street, notice which ones make you smile and laugh at their cuteness and attempts to be scary and which ones make you uneasy or want to crawl into a dark hole and pull it in after you for fear of attracting their attention. If you can, decide for yourself whether the Celtic version of Halloween was just a superstitious load of hooey . . . or if there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
I’ll bet the results will surprise you.
To celebrate the season, I brought a treat! One commenter on this post will receive a copy of Red Roses and Shattered glass, an anthology of dark erotica by some of the best authors at Noble Romance, and one will receive an ARC copy of my paranormal suspense/horror novel, Wail. Err…you DO like banshees, don’t you? All you have to do is comment, and one of these can be yours!
Have a safe and happy Halloween. . . and pleasant dreams!
Until next time,
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